BY DAVE GRAYSON
It took 24 hours, due to a Friday night rain postponement, before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finally received the green flag to officially start the Lucas Oil 225 at the Chicagoland Speedway. That meant Kyle Busch had to wait 24 hours to collect his latest series victory.
Busch, in his #51 self owned Kyle Busch Motorsports… Toyota Tundra, led a race high 66 laps to claim his sixth series victory of the season, his 41st career series win and his fourth trip to victory lane at Chicagoland.
After taking the lead for good on lap 134, of the scheduled 150 laps, Busch sailed under the checkers with a margin of victory of 1.129 seconds over runner up Matt Crafton. Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Jeb Burton completed the top five.
However, this is not to imply that Busch’s latest win in NASCAR’s tail gate party division was easy. There were plenty of reasons for driver concern before he earned the right to park in victory lane.
The process started on the Thursday before the race when two practice sessions were scheduled. Busch was unable to participate in the sessions due to public relations commitments for the Sprint Cup Series’ Chase for the Championship. Unfortunately, Mother Nature pounded the speedway with an all day Friday rain which forced officials to cancel qualifying and set the race’s line up based on the practice speeds from the day before. That also meant that Busch was going to have to start the race from the rear of the field.
Needless to say, when the race finally started, Busch didn’t remain at the back of the field very long. By the time NASCAR threw a scheduled competition yellow flag at lap 30, Busch had already charged his way to fourth. Unfortunately, he was caught speeding on pit road, during the yellow flag pit stop, which led to a drive through penalty. He had to restart the race in 27th. Once again, Busch charged his way to the front and, by lap 52, led the race for the first time.
However, his Chicago ordeal wasn’t quite over yet. Next on the list was an errant piece of tape from the grill of a competitor’s truck. That piece of tape landed on the grill of Busch’s truck which raised the level of his water temperature to an extremely high temperature. Busch caught a break at this point. A caution flag, due to a crash, came out moments later and that allowed Busch to come to pit road to have the troublesome tape removed.
The final surprise of the night for Kyle Busch came on lap 110 when he entered pit road for a green flag, and his final, pit stop of the race. During the course of pit road service, a spin out brought out a yellow caution flag. When Busch returned to the track, he had to take a wave around to return to the lead lap. He restarted the race in eighth. By lap 134, Busch was back in the lead for good and his ordeal was finally over.
Matt Crafton’s second place finish once again placed him on top of the series’ championship standing. However, he only holds a five point advantage over his team mate Johnny Sauter who finished 14th in the race. Still very active in the points picture, Ryan Blaney is ranked third in the standings and is only 16 points out of first.
The highly coveted series’ owners points title run is also very close following the Chicagoland race. Crafton’s #88 Toyota, owned by Rhonda Thorson of Thor Sport Racing, is on top of the standings but only holds a four point advantage over the #51 Toyota owned by Kyle Busch Motorsports. Johnny Sauter’s #98 Thor Sport Racing Toyota, with Mike Curb listed as the owner, is third and only five points out of fourth. 16 points out of first, and fourth in the standings, is the Brad Keselowski owned Ford driven by Ryan Blaney.